Running late after having to deal with the whole Scrappyleaks fiasco for most of the week, Scrappy is finally able to get podcast 12 out the door. Overusing the term “pay tribute” to the point where it’s laughable, Scrappy is broadcasting live from Houston, Texas, where he, umm, pays tribute to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, to African pop music of the 60’s and 70’s and to Houston. I can dig it, can YOU dig it baby?
We’re broadcasting from studio B this week. No overarching themes on this podcast, just the usual free-form collection of tracks from the McGowan music library. From Penguin Cafe Orchestra to Carmen McCrae to Stevie Wonder to Frank Zappa, this ain’t your father’s podcast – well that is unless you’re my kids. In that case it IS your father’s podcast.
This week’s podcast features all live recordings. From Santana to Loudon Wainwright III, Paul Sturm to Nina Simone, it’s all live, all the time.
Noam Chomsky was a no show, instead Scrappy is joined this week by the ghost of Howard Zinn. Come, be with them as they remember the lives of John Lennon and Solomon Burke. Scrappy also pays tribute to New York in song.
Scrappy hits the road this week, broadcasting live from Minnesota, where he brings you his own special brand of free-form musical goodness. So join Scrappy and his crew as they broadcast live from Sol LeWtt Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler in Edina, MN.
Collecting music has been a lifelong obsession of mine that started in 1964 when my grandparents gave me my first Beatles record. Ever since, I’ve been steadily adding to my collection of LPs, 45s, CDs and now, digital music files. If you’ve been to my house, you can see that my living room is filled with LPs and my back room wall is lined with CD racks. Really, it’s a kind of sickness. Once, years ago, the farm house I was living in caught fire, and with the firemen distracted by a wall of flame, I crawled into the smoke-filled house on my hands and knees, and choking on smoke, pulled out all my crates of records. That’s a true story. It’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, but it also tells you what my music collection means to me.
I made my first mix tape back in 1976 and never really stopped. For four years in the mid 80’s I had a weekly radio show on the now defunct WQAX. Those Sunday afternoons spent spinning records was one of the happiest times of my life. In the intervening 23 years, I’ve continued to put together mixes that I’d send to friends. I even put together a yearly mix of the best tunes of the past year.
Right now my wife is living in India for nine months and I decided to use music as a way for us to stay connected. The thought occurred to me to use the the Internet as a mechanism to send her music, which was the genesis for creating the Broadcasting From Home podcast.
Really, it’s a brilliant and selfish idea this podcast. See, by creating a podcast, I now have a reason to keep adding music to my collection. The new music isn’t for me, it’s for the podcast – at least that’s what I keep telling myself. Putting together an hour worth of music each week allows me to flip through the music collection, both physical and digital. I find myself pulling out and listening to things I’ve not heard in years. AND, I get to share it with my friends. What can be better than that?
So, that’s why the podcast. Aren’t you glad you asked?
This week Scrappy goes under the covers to bring you new and different versions of your favorite tracks. Some will surprise you, some will delight you, hopefully they will leave you begging for more.
On this week’s podcast Scrappy celebrates two remarkable women as well as celebrating the coming of fall. Come join Scrappy but don’t forget to wear your autumn sweater.
Podcast number two is available for your listening pleasure. Number two features a musical journey that takes you from the pie case of the Croton Diner to South Africa and back again.
It’s been 23 years since my last broadcast at the late, great WQAX in Bloomington, IN and, that seemed like a long enough break from the mic and the turntable.
When I threw my hat into the Internet ring back in 1995 it was because I saw the Internet as the great equalizer; I saw it as a tool that would allow a musician to produce, distribute and profit from their music, free from the record companies which turned musicians into little more than musical sharecroppers. And so it seems only fitting that getting back behind the mic now allows me to be broadcasting from home via the internet.
With the hope of putting together regular podcasts, I hope you enjoy listening. And as always, the request lines are open…
There are lots of wonderful greatest lists out there, but I absolutely love Out Magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest, Gayest Albums. Yeah, there are oodles of predictable choices here like Madonna (way too many of her albums on the list), David Bowie, Queen, Pet Shop Boys etc. But there are also some great surprises. Nick Drake and The Beatles make the cut. But then there is th inspired choice of Antony and the Johnsons, I Am A Bird Now, which comes in at #10.
Antony Hegarty has a high tembling voice which you either love or hate. Me, I love his voice and all the vulnerability he exposes. According to Out Magazine:
“With unflinching passion, a desperate desire for human connection, and a tremulous voice redolent of Nina Simone, cherubic Antony Hegarty — with help from Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, and Boy George — delivered a sparse set of some of the saddest, rawest songs ever recorded. In I Am a Bird Now’s 10 tracks, the singer meditates on the lonesome “middle place” between life and nothingness (“Hope There’s Someone”); gender mutability (“For Today I Am a Boy”); sadomasochism (“Fistful of Love”); and, on the album’s breathtaking climax, “Bird Gerhl,” the sublime freedom of flying alone.”
17 years ago Spencer Elden was photographed as the naked baby on the cover of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’. Now he’s all grown up and responsible for this great quote:
“Quite a few people in the world have seen my penis, so that’s kinda cool. I’m just a normal kid living it up and doing the best I can while I’m here.”
Learn more about Spencer Elden and what it’s like to appear on one the most important albums in the history of rock.
Last Saturday night Carrie and I had the joy of seeing Rickie Lee Jones at the Max M. Fisher Music Hall in Detroit as part of the annual Concert of Colors (all for free, no less). I’ve been a big fan of Ms. Jones back since my hippie days when her second album ‘Pirates’ was a staple in the communal farmhouse I lived in.
While I have seen many wonderful, wonderful shows over the past few years, this concert was on a whole different level due to the fact that Rickie Lee didn’t just perform her songs, she in many cases reinvented them. She used the talents of her brilliant young band to take her songs from a place that was at once familiar and totally new and different at the same time. Rather than just merely improvise (as in solo), she and her band wandered through and played with her extensive back catalog, at times letting her voice dance wordlessly with her backup singer and violinist in a Van Morrison meets Jane Siberry type groove.
The undisputed highlight was when Rickie Lee mentioned that her daughter was into European dance hall music, (“the worst kind” she wryly noted, “and I love it” she continued). She then led the drummer to pound out a dance hall disco-ish beat while she started singing her much loved 1981 classic “Livin’ It Up”. As the band followed, the tune grew more dense and driven as time went on. Conducting the band from behind her piano, she pushed the song and her musicians to totally new places. The band seemingly was in uncharted territory as they followed Rickie Lee’s hand signals in turning a formerly light and airy four minute track into an eight minute long epic, the music ebbing and flowed, the drum beat always moving it forward.
Watching how Jones used her songs and her band as a canvas, I was once again reminded why live music is central to my life. Rickie Lee held thousands of us transfixed together, creating a sense of unity and joy that was palpable in the hall. She brought us all together in a way that only great music performances can. All hail Rickie Lee Jones.
Those of us who with a strong Jones for new music need their suppliers, folks who keep us fed with the latest bands and tunes. My friend Godfrey is one of my main sources. Originally from Dublin, Godfrey is my supplier of all that is great from the British Isles. Years ago he turned me on to The Frames, who at the time were barely known here. So it was only fitting that when I finally got to see The Frames perform live last Saturday, it was with Godfrey (along with his wife Nancy, the kids and my dear friend Cynthia). The show was billed as a duo show with Frames lead man Glen Hansard and his music partner Marketa Irglova, the stars of the movie Once.
Based on the huge success Hansard and Irglova were having after winning the best song Oscar this year, Godfrey decried the apparent end of The Frames, Ireland’s greatest live band. However his sorrow was short-lived when Hansard introduced The Frames at the start of the show. Where we expected a duo show, what we got was a Frames plus Irglova show. Granted there was a fair amount of Hansard’s more recent acoustic driven songs that were featured in Once, but there was enough driving symphonic Frames music to keep me very happy and grooving in my seat.
If you want to see what makes The Frames one of the world’s great bands, here are some links (since the site has been so heavy on embedded video lately, I figured I’d pass along the video as links):
The Frames performing their crowd favorite, God Bless Mom (from Lollapalooza 2006)
Check out a beautifully shot and produced Frames concert featuring clickable chapters so you can pick any song from the show.
My favorite sound in music is the unmistakable jangle of the 12-string guitar electric. Think The Byrds, Tom Petty or REM.. For years I’ve dreamed of owning a 12-string Rickenbacker, but without an extra $2500 to toss around, that was out of the question. But as of today I’m the proud owner of a beautiful and very affordable Dean 12-String. Now I can sit and jangle to my hearts delight.
Speaking of that remarkable 12-string jangle, here’s some of my favorite 12-string songs (in no particular order):
Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds
Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds
Drunken Angel – Lucinda Williams
Carry Me Ohio – Sun Kil Moon
And Your Bird Can Sing – The Beatles
Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
Bright Side – Pernice Brothers
Ain’t That Enough – Teenage Fanclub
Stroke It Noel – Big Star
The Ballad of El Goodo – Big Star
Evie’s Tears – Freedy Johnston
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
Do You Believe In Magic – Lovin’ Spoonful
Sitting Still – R.E.M.
Maps And Legends – R.E.M.
Jenny & The Ess-Dog – Stephen Malkmus
Despite her complex and wide musical tastes, Sarah had a habit of listening to the same song over and over. Once she got hooked on a Shania Twain song and listened to it something like 40 times in a row. I thought that was just crazy. My issue has always been, how do I get through all this amazing music out there I want to listen to. Every now and then I’ll listen to a song twice or three times, but that’s it… until now.
The other night I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR when they did a profile on the Italian musician Vinicio Capossela who is like the Tom Waits of Italy. At the end of the interview they played his beautiful lullabye ‘Ovunque Proteggi’ (May You Protect Me Everywhere). Guess what? Now I play the damn song over and over and over again. I have always been a sucker for the heartbreaking and delicate beauty of songs by folks like Nick Drake or the sweepingly beautiful Vaughn Williams symphonies. Well now ‘Ovunque Proteggi’ has grabbed me and won’t let go. I think I’m giving that Shania Twain song a run for it’s money on the repeat scale.
Want to hear the song for yourself? Head to the NPR story on Vinicio Capossela and on the left towards the bottom there’s a link to listen to ‘Ovunque Proteggi’.
Sometimes a song comes along that I can’t seem to get enough of. While down in Bloomington recently, Marv Foley turned me on to the Mike Scott (of the Waterboys) song “Sunny Sailor Boy” as sung by Luka Bloom.
It’s a simple little sea song with a lilting groove, and I find myself playing it over and over on guitar.
Come on, sing along with me, Ooh-wha ooh-wha, ooh-wha ooh-wha, ooh, my sunny sailor boy
People who know me know that one of my unabashed musical passions is Frank Sinatra. Take me to a party of music geeks and watch me battle with them as I explain why ‘Ol Blue Eyes was the greatest and most important vocalist of the 20th century. And I’m not joking. Did you know that he learned his phrasing by imitating brass players? Did you know that when he was younger, he used to stay under water as long as he could while swimming just to strengthen his lungs? Huh, didya?
I’ve inherited only a few things from my mother, premature gray hair, a love of writing and grammar and a devotion to Frankie. You want Frank on 78, 45, L.P., cassette, CD or MP3? Come on over and come share the Frank love here at Chez Scrappy.
So, given all the scary and sad news that’s passed by me these past two weeks, it’s great to have something to get excited about. Today, the U.S. Postal Service announced that Frank will get his own postage stamp next spring! Enough with honoring those who have worked to fight cancer or create democracy and freedom, I want to adorn my letters with Frank. Those of you who will get Christmas cards from me next year, you know who you’ll see gazing at you from the top-right corner of the envelope.
I’ve been totally digging listening to the new Sigur Rós CD Hvarf/Heim, which is really a double EP rather than an album. True fans appear to be disappointed because the discs contain re-recordings from their first album while the second disc contains live versions of new tunes that sound exactly like the recorded versions.
That said, I love Sigur Rós, who are like an Icelandic version of Yes tripping on Ecstasy and moving very slowly. That’s Scrappy’s assessment, here’s what The Guardian (the great UK paper) has to say:
“…There’s Salka, which shows off both their way with a winding guitar melody and enviable capacity to sound simultaneously wistful and triumphant. Hafsól, meanwhile, demonstrates the band’s ability to alight on a sound that’s unfathomably appealing: in this case a drumstick being rattled against bass guitar strings, a noise that, improbably enough, turns out to have the same warm, comforting quality as the smell of freshly brewed coffee.”
The closure of Tower Records has been bad news for classical fans. Where do classical music lovers go now to find their recordings. Certainly not to Best Buy and Circuit City. You would think that it would a great opportunity for the once great but now feeble Borders Books and Music. The answer my friend is (not blowing in the wind) Amazon.
The New York Times takes a look at how Amazon has stepped up to the plate in an effort to create a home for the oft-ignored Classical Music fan.